Asheville spoils Venom's home opener, 48-28

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   It wasn't the most pleasant of home openers for the Tennessee Venom, playing their first game at Happy Valley High School.
   The Venom were battered by the Asheville Assault on Saturday, becoming victims of a 48-28 final at Happy Valley High School.
   "Tennessee played a good game, and our first game was rough, but this one was even rougher," said Assault coach Cedric Scott.
   The game started off shaky for the Venom, which turned the ball over on their first three series of downs, which led to Asheville's first two touchdowns.
   It was Nikey Guffey taking the ball in from eight yards out to give the Assault the early advantage.
   The Assault continued with their next possession, as Heidi Hollifiled took the quarterback keeper crossing the goal from three yards away.
   "We took advantage of some fumbles and interceptions, and that really kept us in the game," said Scott.
   Another Asheville touchdown came with 12:00 left in the second period, after Hollifield made a throw to Kelly Hinz that covered 54 yards.
   "We have a little trouble with tackling because we stayed in the backfield and overplayed it," said Venom coach Jeff Gethers.
   The Venom offense had went into hibernation on its first four possessions, but after falling behind 20-0 early in the second, Tennessee started slithering their way back.
   With the running game having its struggles, the Venom went to the air finding success.
   Quarterback Vanessa Burke found a reliable counterpart in Bridget Graves, acquiring their first score on a 22-yard pass.
   The dynamic duo hooked up again on their next series, this time on an eight-yard touchdown play.
   "Tonight we executed our passing game, which helped in opening up our running game," said Gethers.
   After forcing Asheville to go three downs and out, the Venom captured their first and only lead of the contest on a 34-yard run by Tameasha Marks.
   Marks added the two-point conversion with a run, which gave Tennessee a 22-20 lead with 2:19 left until halftime.
   The Assault responded right back with a 48-yard run from Al Franklin with just over a minute to play, giving Asheville a 28-22 lead at the half.
   In the third quarter, Tennessee committed a couple of interceptions leading to an Assault touchdown.
   Two passes were picked off by Rej Driskell to set up a 10-yard run by Franklin.
   Tennessee's momentum from the first half was slipping away, and it continued to go downhill when Catlin St. Louis, a key linebacker, suffered an injury that caused postponement for nearly 30 minutes.
   "My ace linebacker got hurt with a neck injury, but I'm quite sure she'll be back next week, and we will be a little stronger," said Gethers.
   The Venom seem to have trouble responding after that point, as the Assault continued into the final period.
   Asheville received two big runs for scores by Hollifield and Franklin to put the game out of reach in the closing minutes.
   Tennessee was finally able to get a touchdown with 55 seconds left, after Marks pounded the ball in from five yards out.